Lesson Three – Descriptive Sample Essay
Note: The below essay appears as they were initially reviewed by admissions officers.
SAMPLE ESSAY 1: Harvard, personal identity: Bedroom tour
If someone were to look through your bedroom, what do you hope your possessions would convey about you?
A typical teen’s room? In some respects, yes, but in many ways, my room has become an extension of my personality, interests and values. Upon entering, one would probably notice the lack of any music group, scantily clad female model, or indeed, any adornment at all on my walls. I prefer the unsoiled look of clean walls, which provide a sense of calm. However, my room is far from military precision and order; my bed lies unmade and yesterday’s wardrobe gathers dust on the floor. The visitor may consider my room tidy, but not inflexible.
While touring my room, one would surely stop to look through the room’s workspace, my desk and computer. The desktop is fairly organized, consisting of a pencil holder, desk calendar, and assorted textbooks. The calendar is full of important dates-tests, deadlines, and of course, the rare days off from school. Academics are one of my highest priorities, but would be useless without occasional relaxation. Above my desk hangs a bulletin board. Similar to the calendar, it holds important pieces of information, as well as a few personal items. A postcard, a present from my grandfather, would likely catch one’s eye. The postcard is from my homeland, and includes a famous quote by Mahatma Gandhi. It reminds me of the country I was born in, and the ties I have to my original culture. Directly below the postcard hang a few baby pictures of myself, mementos of a simpler time. Alongside my desk is a computer, without which I could not survive. The slightly outdated, yet fully competent Apple Macintosh aids with school, and, nearly any other activity I participate in. The Mac also has a modem, connecting me to the global community linked through the Internet. I am very interested in the Internet, and have found it a very useful source of information for everything ranging from tomorrow’s weather to buying a new car. Upon leaving my workspace, I hope my possessions would convey that I am serious about my work, but I approach it with practicality and a grain of salt.
On the other side of my room lies my relaxation area, commonly referred to as a bed. Strewn about the bed are two magazines which represent my interests, MacWorld and Time. I read these magazines daily, to keep up with current events as well as advancements in the information age. Atop my bureau lays the latest work by Stephen King. The content may not be as deep and insightful as Jane Austen’s or Keats, but his stories serve their purpose in providing light entertainment. The bed is unmade, a fact for which I feel no remorse. Although my mother disapproves, I consider an unmade bed a symbol of rest and quietude. My bed may be considered utilitarian, for its uses are not limited to sleeping upon. Some of my best moments of focus and concentration have occurred while lying on the bed and staring at the ceiling, producing thoughts ranging from T.V. shows to pondering college life. Few teen rooms can be considered complete without a loud stereo and an assorted collection of tapes and C.D.’s. My room is no different-my music collection occupies two shelves. Past the techno-rubble of the Eighties lie my current favorites, alternative rock. If a visitor were to turn on the stereo, he would find a couple presets devoted to “homework” music, classical and light jazz. I find that these sounds provide a sense of tranquility while trying to do homework, write reports, or complete college essays. My bed and surrounding areas represent my non-academic, more human interests. They personify the activities and hobbies which I truly enjoy, and provide a breather from some of the more rigorous aspects of life.
After exiting my room, I would hope my visitor learned a few important things about me. I consider my academics seriously, and devote much of my time (and room) to them. However, they do not necessarily dominate my existence; loud music and Stephen King novels also play a role.
While no one felt that this essay was strongly flawed, they made a number of suggestions about how the author could have rewritten the essay to create more of an impact.
The writing style is a little too rigid. The writer should let go of the fear that he won’t be taken seriously unless he uses a formal style. The writer should replace stodgy sounding phrases like “while touring my room,” with the more straightforward, “as you look around my room.” If this were one of my students asking advice, I’d pat him on the back and say, “Lighten up, it’s your bedroom. Don’t use words like quietude and utilitarian. Relax and have fun with this.”
The last paragraph needs to be dropped altogether. If the essay has done it’s job, recaps like this are obvious and unnecessary.
This essay does not, unfortunately, convey an impression of a very active person. Whether or not he meant to, I picture the author as someone who spends a lot of time alone in his room playing with his computer and reading lightweight novels. I don’t see what he would contribute to campus life. This is something that applicants to technical institutions in particular should be wary of. Admission officers at such places tend to be especially unreceptive to applicants who seem to believe that being a “computer jock” is all the credentials they need for admission.